Report from Louisiana: Treading Water

Posted: December 7, 2020 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
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By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – I know you are with me when I reiterate I will be so glad when this pandemic is over.

Everyone is dealing with this in their own way: the anti-maskers, the maskers, the “no-way-will-I-take-that-vaccine” people, to the ones who say bring it on. Has any disease ever so divided a people or become so politicized as this one?

And I know people are working from home, working on the front lines, and everything in between. I can only tell you about what I see in the schools.

I teach in a Title 1 high school with an enrollment of around 600, give or take. As with most places nationwide, our Covid numbers are surging once again. The only number I really pay attention to is the hospitalizations number.

In August, on the day school started, our hospitalization number was 536. I wrote it down. As of today, December 7, our hospitalization number is 1392.

Our district is 100% face to face every single day, although there is a virtual option offered for those who want to be 100% virtual. There are some who do that. I have about twenty kids in each of my English II classes. Friday, I have five kids present in fourth block. Five. Everyone else was absent or in quarantine. We had twelve teachers in quarantine Friday, and our faculty has about 60 teachers.

Because of the Family Medical Leave Act, teachers have ten excused Covid days but these expire in December, unlike the virus itself, and nobody seems to be talking about renewing that.

One of the things that worries me is that Pete hired me to make a contribution to this blog, and I often feel like I’m giving him (and you) short shrift, but damn, I’m trying to keep my head above water here, and I know you understand. I am simultaneously teaching kids online through Google classroom who are absent from class, teaching my in-person kids, covering classes for teachers that are out, pulling together makeup assignments, cleaning and sanitizing my classroom, Chromebooks, and high touch surfaces.

Our state is continuing on with high stakes End of Course testing in January (we are on block schedule so one semester ends in January and another will begin), and I have to get whatever kids are here ready for that and help the absent ones get caught up.

It’s madness.

So, bear with me if my posts right now are too Covid, too teacher focused. Today is Pearl Harbor Day and I really wanted to write something beautiful about that and call attention to this date. My mind isn’t working in the direction I want it to, so that post is just not coming together.

We’re all just doing the best we can right now, aren’t we?

Thanks for your patience with me!

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25 and Twitter @paustin110.

  1. Bill Heffner says:

    My wife and I spent Thanksgiving with our niece and her family. Lovely people and it was, as always, one of the nicest experiences I could have. She has two daugters, teenagers now, who are adorable and a delight to be around.

    Unfortunately, they have become real Covid nazis, and spent quite a lot of time ranting about people they know who are so stupid that they don’t wear masks, go to parties and poker nights, enjoy nights out at the casino, etc. I finally asked how many of these people had become sick. There was an embarrassed, and rather angry, silence.

  2. Pod Hamp says:

    Covid 19 is the subject du jour these days. And the conversations are the same in my part of the country. (I live in one of those square states out west.) As the case count increases, the hospitalization rate increases, and the deaths increase, its the same refrain. The Covid hypochondriacs and the health officials say: If those people would just wear their masks and stay home, then the case rate would drop like a paralyzed falcon, and it would be all sweetness and light (paraphrased). But every store I go in, every restaurant I go to it is the same thing. 99 out of a hundred people are masked up. We have had a mask mandate in this county since last spring and the compliance rate is overwhelmingly high. But the cases keep coming.

    I think the Covid hypochondriacs cling to the mask thing like a life preserver in the middle of the ocean, because the alternative is too scary for them to face. That the masks and isolation only have a marginal effect. That so much of the pandemic is beyond their control and all the masking and isolation they do won’t make that much of a difference. The best that they can do is kick the can down the road a ways and delay the inevitable. Not being able to control things in your life is truly scary and that is why the hypochondriacs squeal so loudly. about mask noncompliance, and try to blame other people for it.

    BTW, Pat, I enjoy your posts. They are a slice of real life and a window on a world different than mine. Don’t apologize, just keep writing.